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Federal Courts Enjoin Religious and Moral Exemptions under ACA’s Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

In December 2017, two federal district courts granted nationwide preliminary injunctions from enforcement of the interim final rules providing for religious and moral exemptions from the contraceptive coverage mandate under the ACA issued in October 2017 by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”). Please see our earlier discussion of these exemptions. Both federal courts held that the Departments impermissibly bypassed the notice and comment rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act and that the plaintiffs, consisting of six states, sufficiently demonstrated they would be harmed without an injunction. The timing of these injunctions is a cause for concern for any plan sponsors who have already acted in reliance on the interim final rules. The U.S. Department of Justice has indicated it disagrees with these rulings and may appeal. View Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Trump. View State of California v. Health and… Continue Reading

Executive Order Intended to Ease Religious-Based Objections to Women’s Contraceptive Services

On April 17, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (the “EO”) that includes a request to the Secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services to consider amending regulations related to a plan sponsor’s ability to make a conscience-based objection to, and opt out of, complying with the preventive services mandate under the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). Under the ACA, non-grandfathered group health plans must generally provide coverage for specified preventive services, including women’s contraceptive services. Although the EO broadly indicates the entire ACA preventive services mandate, the context of the order suggests the focus is on women’s contraceptive services. Religious employers, narrowly defined as houses of worship, are currently exempt from the requirement to cover women’s contraceptive services, but there is no exemption for non-profit religiously affiliated employers or any for-profit organization. The EO appears to request the agencies make it easier for religiously-affiliated employers to… Continue Reading

November 2018
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